Lamb Tagine with Raisins, Almonds and Honey

This tagine, called Mrouzia, is one of the great classics, an extremely sweet dish made for special occasions – Ramadan, the Eid and New Year celebration. If you don’t like raisins, just pick around them when you eat it. They add a richness and sweetness to the sauce.

Serves 6 people

1.3 kg (2 ½ lbs) lamb shoulder or leg, cut into 3cm (1 ½”) chunks
450 g (1 lb) raisins
300 g (10 oz) blanched, whole almonds
12 tablespoons heavy, dark honey
2 gloves garlic, peeled and crashed
2 teaspoons ras el hanout
¼ teaspoon powdered ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cinnamon sticks
pinch of pulverised saffron
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste

Whisk together ras el hanout, salt, pepper, ginger, saffron and 1 cup of water in a large 5-quart deep casserole. Bring to the boil over medium-high heat and stir in the lamb chunks, rubbing the mixture into each meat piece. Add the almonds, garlic, cinnamon sticks, oil and 2 cups of water. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 1 ½ hours – until the lamb is tender. Turn the meat often and add water whenever necessary.

Add the raisins, honey and powdered cinnamon and continue cooking, covered, for 30 minutes.

Uncover and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until the sauce is thickened and the meat pieces are coated in a thick honey glaze. Serve at once.